Where am I going?

On the Tumblr site I have been following up on the mishaps of the Bexar County Democratic Party and in particular its chair, Dan Ramos. While reading and then posting these articles I have been pondering my own place in local politics. Currently I sit as a Representative of the Poor on the Community Action Advisory Board. I am going to say you haven’t heard of such a position. I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t, the work of CAAB and its elected Representatives of the Poor and other board members are way under the radar in San Antonio, Texas. This my twelve year on the board, and most likely my final year as well.

Where am I going after sitting on CAAB? I have been thinking about running for a seat on the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees again. I ran for a seat last election, in 2006, and only got 20% of the vote. But I would like to believe that I have learned from past campaign mistakes and will be in a better position to run, if in fact that is what I want to do in 2012.

If I do make the move to run again, I would expect this site to change, as it has been my previous campaign website. You can also expect me to make more relevant use of social media networks, in particular Facebook and Twitter.

So, when will I make a decision on running? I expect at the earliest it would be later in May and at the latest sometime in November, 2011. The election for the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees is in May 2012, after the Primary elections in March, so like last time I could expect this one to be another low turnout election, even if it is in the midst of what I expect to be a contentious presidential election year.


Signs are up

I have recently noticed that Elisa Chan‘s campaign has been putting up their campaign signs around the district. I would also note that the campaign website has been subtly updated to reflect her recently announced campaign. With this in mind I have begun to wonder what it would take for an underfunded and relatively unknown candidate to win an election over the better funded and known incumbent.

My first thought is making aggressive use of the internet through a website and social media to reach out to likely voters. But I have also thought that with a lack of money to match what someone with resources would do in a traditional “big money” campaign, how would a “no budget” candidate make use of netroots and grassroots kind of campaigning. These things do come to mind as I look at 2012 and the possibility of another run at the Alamo Colleges board of trustees.

Right now though are the municipal races for San Antonio and other smaller cities and districts in the area. Where I live, Elisa Chan is my city councilwoman and is running for reelection. She has drawn one opponent that I am aware of, Jose Valadez Jr., hopefully I will have more thoughts on his campaign.

No, I am not running…

With Cafe College as a backdrop this past Sunday, Mayor Julian Castro announced his bid to run for reelection as mayor of San Antonio. In his announcement, Mayor Castro laid out a pair of priorities for another prospective term of office. He called for the cause of educational readiness and the need to reorient San Antonio’s economic development model. Both of these priorities have been illustrated in the recent SA2020 initiative where citizens from throughout the city came together to lay out a common vision for San Antonio in the next ten years.

While it is certainly early to speculate if others will step up to run for mayor against the Castro. Lets remember it has only been a day since candidates for municipal elections can officially file for office. It would appear that the mayor will likely face only marginal opposition in the upcoming election. So far, there has been little if any discussion of major candidates stepping up to make their bids for mayor of San Antonio.

It is with Mayor Castor’s announcement that I look upon my own city council district here in town. City council member Elisa Chan has been touted for other political offices, from a possible opening in the state legislature, to a future run for mayor herself. In the meantime, she has held steady as my city council representative in district 10, which encompasses the north-central corridor of San Antonio. A conservative district, I have sometimes pondered how a liberal, such as myself, can hope to win a municipal race here.

I do have some political experience in this district, I serve as the area elected Representative of the Poor with the city of San Antonio. Despite holding an elected office, it is little known and does not get the type of attention that being a city council member would get. I do serve my community as best I can and do at times look onward at the city council someday. However someday is not now, I am not looking at a run for city council at this time.

I still find that it is difficult to articulate the importance of the issues at the center of my life and how those issues matter to this north central district. Issues such as poverty, community, and civic engagement seem to be beyond the scope of issues that would seem to matter to my district, even if I believe strongly that they are very meaningful to the economic and social well-being of our city as a whole and within the neighborhoods that I call home.

This is not to say that I am going to simply ignore the issues that matter right now, and not pay attention to the upcoming election in district 10. I do expect Elisa Chan to announce her own reelection campaign for city council, as well, I do not expect any serious contention for her seat at city hall. With that in mind, even if she runs unopposed, I will be closely following the issues that are at the center of my district and will blog on the upcoming campaigns and issues within my city council district.

Dharma Talk on the Order of Interbeing

This Tuesday, Gaylynne Carter will do a dharma talk about the Order of Interbeing, which is an institution established by Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh in 1966. This is the Buddhism tradition that Gaylynne first took her lay practicioner vows and commense her devotion to the three jewels (the three jewels are the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most respected Buddhist masters up next to the Dalai Lama.

The Dharma talk will be on Tuesday, February 1st beginning 6:30 PM at the Ecumenical Center on 8310 Ewing Halsell Drive in San Antonio, Texas.

This is a talk that I am looking forward to, I am a practicing Buddhist, following the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh through the Community of Mindful Living. This is one of the events that I will be going to leading up to, and continuing after Tet, the Vietnamese New Year which is this Thursday.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, I will be making the drive up to Austin, TX to get some food for the new year. Wednesday night I will be visiting the Buddhist Temple of San Antonio near the medical center for new year activities and festivities. Finishing the week I will be spending the day at the Institute of Texan Cultures celebrating the new year at the Asian Festival.

Chicken Fried Ribeye Breakfast

More often than not I don’t sleep much at night. Instead I sit up in my bed and look up and stare at my ceiling fan for some time. Then I get out of bed and drive off to some nearby diner where I drink their iced tea, or worse the really bad coffee. Tonight is no different, except I had this idea that I would stay up, drink a lot of coffee, and then drive off to the Cowboy Breakfast for some more coffee.

I have lived in San Antonio for a long while now, but I have never been to the Cowboy Breakfast. The excuses are many, usually it is work related, other time I simply sleep through it or even forget about it until after it is all over and done.

This morning may be no different. I am looking up at my ceiling fan and realize that I am not going to get sleep any time soon. So I drive off in my car and find my way to the nearest diner, a Jim’s Restaurant I have been going to for the past eleven years now. I was supposed to get an iced tea and coffee, that was the plan, then I saw the Rodeo Special.

The Rodeo Special this year is a chicken fried ribeye breakfast and after eating my late night dinner, the idea of an early morning breakfast is fast disappearing. I may still make the drive to the parking lot at Cowboys Dancehall and get some juice and coffee. After living in San Antonio for 17 years now, I still have yet to go to a Cowboy Breakfast. I may end up waiting one more year…

The Cowboy Breakfast

The Cowboy Breakfast is the event that kick’s off the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. It has been around since 1979 and starts early in the morning for most of us, 4:30 AM with free food, coffee, and live music.

It has been around for 33 years and keeps up with the tradition of community spirit here in San Antonio as its many volunteers, from all walks of life here in town, making breakfast and serving coffee to tens of thousands of people.

I have called San Antonio home since 1993 and have missed the last 17 of these. Oddly enough I am often up, or mostly up, and moving about at 4:30 in the morning so perhaps this time I’ll make it out to Cowboys Dance Hall and get myself a breakfast taco and a hot cup of coffee and say good morning to some new friends.

What I expect from the SOTU

What are we going to take from the State of the Union address later tonight? President Obama will focus much of his address on four issues; the economy, foreign policy, education, and health care. Why these four issues? The state of our economy and our foreign relations would seem to be mainstays of any address considering the persistent, but improving economy, and the continual war on terrorism that is going on throughout much of the world.

The President will continue his support of the overall scope of the new changes in health coverage, changes Americans seem to overwhelmingly support, while opening a door for Congress to tweak and even change laws that are not as popular, like the health insurance mandate.  

This would leave education, which will be a major policy focus for the administration in the coming year. By addressing our education system, this will continue a trend of focusing on long term issues with our economy. Americans want greater access to health coverage for their families, and the White House delivered. Americans also sense a growing crisis in the way we educate our children, too many children are being left behind and this will greatly have an impact on our ability to compete for good jobs and expand an already shrinking middle class in the United States.

What happens tonight is a State of the Union address that shows a President willing and ready to work across both sides of Congress. Just don’t expect this address to introduce a president who moves fast to the center. While the President has no clear mandate from voters, he does have momentum that the Republicans do not have since the mid term elections. I would expect President Obama to use the address to set an agenda that will allow for vigorous debate, while still being able to move forward with what is necessary to continue the push to a stronger economy, the continued creation of good jobs, while allowing Congress to make serious inroads on our deficit and debt, without endangering our economic recovery.

Tonight’s State of the Union address is President Obama’s time to show that he is more than the leader of one political party and one set of ideals, but rather is a leader who will bring all of us together as we move forward as a nation.

State of the Union Party

All are invited to join BCYD as we watch our President deliver his 2nd State of the Union address.

The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda (the office of the President does not have Constitutional power to enact legislation, only Congress can do this legally) and national priorities to Congress. (Written by Selena Keshav)

January 25 6:30pm-9:30pm
Broadway 50 50
9837 I-10 West – Colonnade
San Antonio, TX

This State of the Union party is close to my neck of the woods, so I thought I would drop by and visit with my Democratic friends and maybe even get a drink or two. Last year I was at a coffee shop, sitting in a couch watching the State of the Union on my iPhone via the White House app. This time, I’ll spend it with people I know. I will try to take a few notes on the speech, and even a few photos of the event and post them before I end my day.

SA2020 @ TriPoint

What will san antonio look like in 10 years?

That’s largely up to you. SA2020 is a community-wide effort to chart San Antonio’s course for the next decade. Education. Transportation. Quality of life. We can make progress by realizing all of these issues are interconnected and by setting priorities to tackle them. Through the process of coming together as a city and speaking up, we’ll be able to map our priorities and decide what kind of community we want to be in 2020.

SA2020’s last public forum is at TriPoint this Saturday, January 22nd. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. but be sure to get there early as every prior forum has had record numbers of attendees. Be a part of helping shape San Antonio’s future.

The future starts here.

I was at the first public forum for SA2020 at TriPoint and had the opportunity to talk about a number of issues that San Antonio will have to face in the coming years. In particular I talked about our education system in our city. A number of issues about what direction to move forward with our city and how to maintain and improve on the overall quality of life were discussed throughout the forum.

The last of four public forums is today, this morning, and I am sitting in Grace Coffee waiting for all of it to begin in this last forum the city of San Antonio will have with its community.

Community Action Advisory Board

I have sometimes referred to myself as an obscure elected official in San Antonio. I am not on the city council, I am not the dog catcher either. I am one of five elected Representatives of the Poor on the Community Action Advisory Board with the city of San Antonio. I have heard Congressman Charlie Gonzalez describe the Representative of the Poor as the most important elected office that no one has ever heard of.

In a nutshell, the Community Action Advisory Board serves as over site of the Community Action Programs run by the city’s Department of Community Initiatives. We also advise the city council on poverty issues in our community. The area I represent makes up San Antonio city council districts 8, 9, 10, and the adjoining parts of Bexar County. This would be the north side of town.

Perhaps the biggest issue I face in the more affluent north side of San Antonio is getting out the word that poverty is a real issue in this part of town and that there are people who are poor, at risk of becoming poor, or are even homeless and hungry living and working in their community.

Below is information on the Community Action Advisory Board taken from our website. I thought it would be useful to know this information on this little known, yet very important and relevant community board.

A forum for policy on poverty and to assure that the issues of the poor are effectively heard and addressed, and to inspire self-sufficiency in individuals and families, respecting and recognizing their desire to make a change for themselves and their families.

The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is a federal, anti-poverty block grant which funds the operations of a state-administered network of local agencies.

This CSBG network consists of agencies that create, coordinate and deliver programs and services to low-income Americans in 96 percent of the nation’s counties. Link to National Web site

The City of San Antonio, Department of Community Initiatives (DCI) is the designated Community Action Agency and the Community Services Block Grant eligible entity for Bexar County. The Department of Community Initiatives (DCI) has also operated the Community Action Program (CAP) since 1979.

The Community Action Advisory Board (CAAB) acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council on the operation of the Community Action Program, and oversees the extent and quality of services to the poor.

Low-income people become more self–sufficient.

The conditions in which low-income people live are improved.

Low-income people own a stake in their community.

Partnerships among supporters and providers of service to low-income people are achieved.

Agency increases its capacity to achieve results.

Low-income people, especially vulnerable populations, achieve their potential by strengthening family and other supportive systems.

The Community Action Advisory Board Meetings are held the 1st Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. Please call (210) 207-2128 for location.